As a mother of two children, I would like to share my experience during labor and my journey to motherhood. I made sure to educate myself of the possible directions my body could lead me. I didn’t really like the idea of a “birth plan”; it sounded too rigid and created the possibility of disappointment. I had heard many women who were discouraged and disappointed with themselves when things didn’t go as planned. They didn’t feel they reached their goal of a natural birth because they were rushed into a C-Section. These women felt scared and because of their stories of panic I made a choice with myself to be prepared. I didn’t want to be frightened during one of the happiest moments in my life. I wanted to be educated and ready for whatever path I was taken.
During the labor of my first child, a beautiful baby boy named Mason, I was nervous the moment I felt contractions. To be honest, I was more frightened of the fact that I had hiked all day and looked terrible. I was one week late and was on a mission that day to meet my baby. I knew how far apart my contractions needed to be and when it was time to go to the hospital. I was determined to have a shower and appear much more presentable. That was the moment I enjoyed the most; I knew while alone in the shower that it was time and these were my last moments with the enormous belly that I had grown. I felt huge and loved the kicks and moments we shared, hiccups included.
We had timed the contractions correctly and both reconfirming with each other that it was now time to leave. We were off to the hospital. When we arrived at the hospital the pain of each contraction really started to kick in. Okay, now this was not how I imagined! The pain is not even describable. I kept my calm though and breathed through each contraction. Reminding myself that no matter what, this is going to be painful. No one said it was going to be a breeze, but women are designed to give birth so I knew it was my mindset that needed work. Contractions come and go; it was much more bearable that way. You were given time to reconnect with yourself. Breathe. Focus. Prepare for the next set of contractions. I was so unaware of my surroundings and it felt great. This journey was between baby and myself.
When I had finally become comfortable with the idea of each contraction and knowing how to work through each one, that’s when the words “You are now 9-10cm and should start to feel as though you are ready to push.” Ready to push? I don’t think so. I then started to feel contractions much closer together (totally without warning, might I add). It felt like there was no time between to focus. All that was left to do was breathe. At this point I was completely unaware of my surroundings. As the nurses and doctor began to move me into position to start pushing, I was ready and motivated. This was it, the last step. Having no idea what I was doing, I felt the need to push and I felt the instinct to do what my body asked. With the first two pushes I could feel my belly drop. That’s when I realized it was the baby I could feel. I could feel his head moving closer to where he needed to be. Women always discuss their fear of tearing or the scene they are making for all those to view. Trust me, when you are at this point, none of those thoughts even cross your mind (which makes the moment much more beautiful). Once again, it is between you and baby.
The moment you and baby have succeeded in your mission and they hand you this beautiful baby, it is an absolute array of emotions. You feel relieved and nervous all over again. This child you protected within you is now exposed to the open world. The pains of contractions are gone and your body is exhausted. You hold your child near and have a moment of silence. I felt like an active participant in my labor. Natural birth was difficult but after the birth and a small moment to enjoy my new child, I was able to move around. I had asked the nurse if I could go home. The natural adrenaline moving though my body had me talking to the entire maternity ward of my experience. I was thrilled and had accomplished one of the most amazing moments of my life.
With my second child, a beautiful baby girl name Lily, I experienced a very similar labor. Feeling like a veteran, of course, I felt I needed to sit down with myself. I needed to reevaluate and understand I had to come into this labor knowing anything can happen. I educated myself once again and kept an open mind to any possibility.
Although the labor started out much like the birth of my son, it ended very differently. I had a much shorter birth. When it came time to push, I felt confident at this point to repeat my previous actions. I began to push and doing what my body wanted me too. At this point it felt different. I didn’t remember needing to push so hard with my first child. With my next push, I knew something felt wrong. The strong contractions and my pushes were making no progress. I told my doctor “She is not moving.” My doctor told me to stop and did a quick check of baby’s heart rate; sure enough it was dropping quickly. Of course, she did not make the news aware to me. My husband was told to press the silent alarm, nurses rushing in and prepared to take me in for an emergency C-Section. I had the great support of my doctor and her similar motivation to try once more. Baby had dropped without her head tilting, this resulting in her head being positioned against my pelvic bone and prevented her from passing. My doctor decided to use the vacuum and asked me to push while she turned baby’s head. As I felt the next set of back-to-back contractions, I gave my energy into one big push. Baby moved pass and came into the world. I was relieved to know we had overcome this point in the birth. Lily welcomed the world with a great heartbeat and that amazing newborn cry. Nothing sounds more incredible.
My doctor later mentioned that if I had taken the epidural I might not have felt Lily positioned against my pelvic bone. I would have simply continued to push. Babies do not typically enter the world quickly. There was nothing at that point to worry the doctor and she may have not checked baby’s dropping heart rate. I felt relieved knowing with my help and my natural instinct that I changed my “birth plan.” I know my body and feel a connection to it. I didn’t want to lose touch with my body communicating such important details. Although every birth is different and certain things cannot be prevented, it is always good to do your research and be prepared for anything. This journey is between you and your baby.
My suggestion to expectant mothers is to keep an open mind and a well-educated mindset. Stay connected to yourself and to baby.